“Saying the Unsaid.” What does that mean?
I have chosen that as the title of this blog for a simple reason. I am not that motivated to express, and see no reason that people would be all that interested in, my thoughts on what are already the issues of the day. Newspapers, magazines, internet blogs and other media all have comment fields, and if something I’m interested in is already being discussed there, that’s where I put in my two cents, either under my own name or a nom de guerre. I feel no need to do so in my own blog.
What motivates me to research and write on public policy is those issues (or aspects of them) that are not being discussed, and those facts that are not being made readily available. Particularly with regard to state and local government policy. This blog is about trying to drive the agenda, not coming along for the ride. I’m a natural at it, since one of my “faults” is that I’m not capable of thinking inside the box.
So who am I?
“Littlefield is a policy wonk.” That is how Erik Engquist, then a Brooklyn Politics columnist, described me when I ran as a minor party protest candidate for state assembly in 2004. While I may consider myself more of a moral philosopher, you will probably want to read posts based on my knowledge of comparative public finance, land use planning, regional economics and transportation. I will try to limit myself to pointing out things that I know that perhaps you don’t, but probably should, and to avoid topics where the reader knows more than I do. Foreign policy, the military, and the “social issues” fall into the categories to be avoided. So does politics as a matter of personality and gossip. I don’t know those people, and they don’t know me.
I ran for office after years of mounting disappointment with public policy at the state level in New York, and increasing frustration that when I went to cast a vote for legislative offices, there was generally only one name on the ballot – or perhaps a second name of someone who didn’t even bother to campaign. Eventually just complaining and saying “someone should do something about this” seemed lazy and dishonest. The last straw was when my Assemblymember came to my neighborhood for a nonsense PR public meeting, I asked him if he could vote “no” if the next state budget continued contain certain very objectionable (possibly even to him) priorities, and (while not directly answering the question) he pretty much indicated that he could not. So I did my civic duty, and having done so (“sorry about the collapse of public services and the bankruptcy of the government kids, but Dad did all he could”), I can go back to complaining.
So what am I doing here?
Having tried to change the policies (and, more importantly, the principles or lack thereof behind those policies) every other way I could come up with (working in the bureaucracy, through an academic report, through letters to the editor, providing data to advocacy groups and journalists, and running as a candidate), I started to blog after having been invited to do so on Room Eight back in 2006. But that group blog has run into increasing technical difficulties, so as a Christmas present my daughter set up this alternative site for me to post my unsaid facts and ideas.
On the technical side I have no idea what I am doing, and my daughter gave me a quick lesson and left town. I have no idea why Room Eight has stopped working much of the time. Is it under attack somehow? The site owner says it needs maintenance, but why should a computer program need to be maintained? Does it wear out? For now, I will also post here what I try post there, so it can be found somewhere. But since I have no idea what the problems are, I have no idea how long this alternative site will last.
Any information I have is free to all. I am not a lobbyist, paid political consultant, public employee (having been paroled after 20 years in government), or an employee of an organization that receives public funding or relies on public contracts. Nor am I a Democrat or Republican – for specific reasons in each case, which you can understand if you read the documents in the “Helpful Background and Greatest Hits” page on this site. I will post as work, family, and other commitments allow, and as I have something to say that I have not already beaten to death over the past nearly seven years. The documents on the “Helpful Background and Greatest Hits” and “The Most Recent Public Finance Analyses, Charts and Tables” pages will stand in for the need for repetition.